[By Theo Rays, Onitsha]
Unless the Federal and State governments descend on roads that are terribly bad in Anambra State and adequate measures taken to address heavy traffic jams that might lock down travelers for so long on the road in strategic places, the benefits and joy of Christmas accruing from business boom good to enhance to economy of the State is definitely going to elude both the State, residents and visitors in the State Christened Light of the Nation.
Our correspondent who went round to ascertain the situation of roads and movement ahead of Christmas season which is few weeks away, reports that the joy of traveling and smooth run of business has been apparently eroded by bad condition of roads and heavy traffic gridlocks in major Federal and State roads across the State.
According to our correspondent, for instance, unless Onitsha – Owerri roads is rehabilitated before Christmas, travelers plying the road are likely to spend the night on the road during Christmas season. Recall that Onitsha – Owerri road is the only road that connects people coming to and fro Southwest, Southeast and Southsouth, so the road is too busy during Christmas season.
Other Federal roads that need urgent attention in Anambra are the Amnsea axis, Awkuzu/Umunya axis and Igbariam axis of Onitsha -Enugu Expressway. Both Amasea junction, Awkuzu junction and Igbariam junction are heavy traffic points and unless those axis of the roads are fixed travellers coming from Southwest to Southeast and North Central State of Benue in particular are likely to spend the night on the road. Currently work is ongoing at the Ukpo and Amwabia axis of the Onitsha – Enugu road and people are hoping that it should be extended to the remaining side of Igbariam and Awkuzu.
Coming down to the State roads, our correspondent report that there is need for immediate attention on New Market road which connects the popular Onitsha Main Market. The New Market road which is also the most popular commercial road in the city harboring a lot of banks, plazas where they sell men and ladies wears, telephone and GSM accessories and many companies including corporate and private offices is terrible in bad condition now.
Also at the State level, the popular Zik avenue that connects the people mostly from neighboring city of Asaba, Agbor, Warri, Sapele and Benin through the bridge head via Fegge axis to another big Market known as Ochanja is very bad. Also roads and major streets in urban areas are bad. Roads in densely populated urban areas like Okpoko, Obosi, Nkpor, Ogidi, Ogbunike and others are bad. In some rural communities people that are well to do are tarring roads on self help initiatives with a view to have easy access moving to and fro their villages and other places.
Reacting to the situation stakeholders and travellers are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Willie Obiano to as a matter of urgency fix the major roads that are prone to high volume of movement during Christmas season to enhance economic activities during and to enable those who wish to visit their villages easy movement.
A Stakeholder and Chairman Travellers Group of Companies, Zeribe Ezeanuna lamented that bad roads and traffic jams not only roughen movement but also impact negatively on economic activities of the people to the detriment of the State revenue. Ezeanuna a governorship aspirant in Anambra State cited the ever busy Obodo Ukwu road in Okpoko saying that the poor condition of the road makes movement and business unbearable to the people.
The Travellers Group boss who is aspiring to be Anambra Governor under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) called on Governor Obiano to emulate his predecessor Mr Peter Obi in carrying out strong palliative measures or full-fledged rehabilitation of roads across the State to enhance free flow of movement in the State during Christmas.
Ezeanuna noted with nostalgia that Obi as Governor gave special attention to road rehabilitation and traffic control during Christmas season involving town unions in carrying out palliative measures adding that that it was Obi’s measures on roads and easy movement during Christmas that gave birth to the construction of flyover bridge at New Auto Spare Parts junction along Onitsha -Enugu Expressway in Nkpor.
Another stakeholder and popular human rights activists Comrade Dede Uzor A. Uzor drew the attention of President Buhari on the heavy scale of movement and business boom capable to improve on the economy that characterise Christmas season noting that travelers are facing unbearable situation if major roads like Onitsha – Enugu road and Onitsha – Owerri road remain bad during Christmas season.
The right activist told President Buhari that “Christmas is a time for high boom in business capable to improve on the economy of our country. Take for instance textile industries, garment industries, breweries, industries that produce beverages and provisions, dealers of petrol products, rice farmers and cash crop famers including livestock dealers and food processing industries make more sales during Christmas than any other time of the year and that is good for our economy.
“But without good roads you cannot guarantee business that will improve on the economy. Take for instance lives and goods worth million of naira has been wasted on the roads owing to bad roads. We have seen petrol tankers collapse on road killing people and money wasted due to bad road. We have seen trucks carrying cement, provisions, beer and soft drinks collapse on road and money wasted at this time of economic hardship in the country due to bad road.”
Also speaking, another human rights activist and social critics Comrade Vincent Ezekweme advised both President Buhari and State Governors to as a matter of importance make special provisions for road rehabilitation and traffic control during Christmas season to ensure that movement and business are smooth for the citizenry.
Ezekweme emphasized on the need for Government at all levels to be pro active not reactive noting that reactive in most cases amount to medicine after death. He added, “knowing the economic benefits of Christmas, government at all levels have to prepare for it by ensuring smooth movement with good roads and easy flowing traffic that will enhance the business of citizens for the progress of the economy of the country.”